LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 17: Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City and Ngolo Kante of Chelsea battle for the ball during the semifinal of the Emirates FA Cup game between Manchester City and Chelsea FC at Wembley Stadium on April 17, 2021 in London, England. Sports stadiums across the UK remain tightly restricted due to the coronavirus pandemic as government social distancing laws ban fans in venues, resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt McNulty – Manchester City / Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
Matt McNulty – Manchester City | Manchester City FC | Getty Images
LONDON – A new breakaway football competition known as the European Super League has received widespread criticism and opposition from former players, politicians, governing bodies, experts and fans.
The ESL, announced on Sunday, should keep up with the UEFA Champions League format, which is currently Europe’s best annual club competition.
Twelve of Europe’s richest teams have signed up to be founding members of the new league, and JPMorgan has provided $ 6 billion in debt funding.
Teams that have agreed to play in the league are as follows:
- England: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal.
- Spain: Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
- Italy: Juventus, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
“I’m disgusted … utterly disgusted,” said Gary Neville, a former Manchester United defender, regarding the Super League during an interview on Sky Sports News on Sunday.
Notable absences at ESL include French Paris Saint Germain and German Bayern Munich. However, three more teams will join the league ahead of the inaugural season, which will take place “as soon as it becomes practical”.
The ESL will eventually have 20 clubs and 15 of them will be permanent which means they cannot be relegated. This is controversial as teams currently have to qualify for the Champions League every year and can be promoted and relegated from the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A.
“The idea that everyone has to fight for five places that change every year and these 15 clubs are always involved is crazy,” said Arsenal fan Julian Morrison. “It just means the best players go to those 15 clubs and the rest have to scrape it out to survive. Kill the whole idea and spirit of competition.”
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has been named the first chairman of the Super League.
“We will help football at all levels and bring it to its rightful place in the world,” Perez said in a statement on Sunday. “Football is the only global sport with more than 4 billion fans. As large clubs, we are responsible for responding to your wishes.”
The already wealthy founding teams of ESL will receive a total of 3.5 billion euros for infrastructure investments. According to The Financial Times, they will receive a welcome bonus of up to EUR 300 million each for joining the Super League.
At the same time, they plan to keep playing and making money in their existing leagues where some other clubs have struggled to stay in business.
New York-listed shares of Manchester United rose 8% in the pre-market due to the ESL announcement, while Juventus shares in Italy rose nearly 14%.
“Anti-Soccer Pyramid Scheme”
“If the fans are one against this anti-football pyramid scheme, it can be stopped,” said former English striker Gary Lineker, who is now presenting the BBC’s “Match of the Day” TV highlights.
Neville, now an expert and commentator on Sky Sports News, said he was particularly “disgusted” with Manchester United and Liverpool, which have long had close ties to the working-class communities that surround their northern England grounds.
“You’re leaving in an unrivaled league that you can’t relegate from,” said Neville. “We have to take back power in this country from the clubs at the top of this league, and that includes my club.”
The billionaire owners of the clubs who signed up as part of the ESL have been accused of being greedy.
“They have nothing to do with football in this country,” said Neville. “There is more than 100 years of history in this country of fans who have lived and loved these clubs and who need to be protected.”
An independent regulator should be put in place to ensure checks and balances are maintained in the English Premier League, he added.
Liverpool fan Tom Cook told CNBC: “It is transforming football into a US sports model where there is no relegation / promotion and the biggest teams control the broadcast rights.”
As a result, they are “getting richer and richer – with a questionable amount of that wealth supposedly trickling down the football pyramid,” added Cook.
UEFA is fighting back
UEFA said in a statement on Sunday that it is united with the top European leagues in its “efforts to stop this cynical project. This project is based on the self-interest of some clubs at a time when society is more than ever Solidarity needs. ” “”
It added: “We will look at all the measures available to us at all levels, both in the judiciary and in sport, to prevent this from happening. Football is based on open competition and athletic merit; it cannot be otherwise.”
The ESL was announced the day before the plans for an expanded and restructured Champions League were signed by UEFA. Planned changes reportedly include 100 more games per season and more financial ties between top clubs.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Sunday he supported the position of the European football association UEFA in rejecting the prospect of a breakaway Super League.
“The President of the Republic welcomes the position of French clubs to refuse to participate in a European Super League football project that threatens the principle of solidarity and sporting merit,” the French Presidency said in a statement sent to Reuters.
“The French state will support all steps taken by the LFP, the FFF, UEFA and FIFA to protect the integrity of national or European federal competitions,” added the Elysee, referring to the national, European and global governing bodies for football.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter that the Super League “would be very harmful to football and we are helping football authorities to take action”.